By Eric Elliott

Pioneer Staff

Its been a long time coming for the Windermere Valley Dirt Riders Club but after four years in existence, they will be hosting their first off-road motorcycle race, the Panorama Hare Scramble, at Panorama Mountain Resort.

Started in 2012, the club was essentially a group of people from around the valley who had a direct interest in dirt bike racing. Gradually, interest grew within the dirt biking community as more and more people brought their dirt bikes out to ride together.

Almost a year ago now, Kendyl Hart, president of the club, said they started thinking about hosting a race after having some discussion with Panorama Mountain Resort as a potential venue for the event. In the fall of 2015, they started meeting with staff from Panorama and worked throughout the winter to finalize the details for the race that would inevitably happen in 2016.

Mr. Hart said hes proud of how far theyve come in launching the first race in the clubs history.

Its great to have something here in our own backyard, but theres lots going on, too, he said. Were still a couple weeks away and things tend to go sideways. The weather, for instance, has cancelled a couple of races in Alberta so we may actually be the first race of the year.

The track theyve created is located at the bottom of Panorama Mountain and runs back-and-forth along the side of the mountain for approximately 14 kilometres. The width of the track makes it a single-lane trail on which racers will complete as many loops as possible during the allotted time for their division. Times can range from one hour in the less experienced groups to two-and-a-half hours for the more experienced riders.

The race will be divided into divisions based on the riders experience ranging from professionals all the way down to people who are racing for their first time. The professional and more experienced racers will race on Saturday, May 28th with the newer racers such as the kids and club participants racing the following day. Mr. Hart said that he expects 150 to 200 racers on the Saturday with another 125 to150 racers on Sunday with racers travelling from as far as Vancouver Island and southern Alberta to make the race.

He added that the idea is to make it an annual event with this year serving as a learning experience for the Windermere Valley Dirt Riders to consider making additions in years to come.

Thats the theory. To build off of it and get bigger and invite more people. Maybe theres talk of a technical hill climb that we can try and do, but we need time to figure that out because its a learning experience. Were a fairly new club and we havent done a race here in this area before so its all new to a lot of us.

He said that the group hopes to use the money made from the event to put towards trail building, promoting the sport and putting up signage for people to understand the proper etiquette within the sport.

For now, its waiting out the final days before hosting the first race in the Invermere area in almost a decade, he said. After years of travelling to dirt bike races across North America, the sport has returned home for the Windermere Valley Dirt Riders Club.

You build it and you hope they come, he said. It sounds like theres a bunch of positive feedback and people are on their way. We all do this; we all travel and now its their turn to come our way.

For more details and to register, visit www.panorama and search for Panorama Hare Scramble.